Just when our trails were starting to thaw and dry, two huge back-to-back rainstorms have saturated the soil. Any trail work has been put on a temporary hold. Theo, for example, received 2" of rain just on Sunday alone. Standing water is rampant across the metro and more rain is on the way.
Wednesday: Morning rain/snow showers. H: 49 L: 39 Wind: NW 5-10
Thursday: Cloudy. Showers. H: 52 L: 38 Wind: NW 10
Friday: Showers linger. H: 53 L: 39 Wind: NW 10
Saturday: Broken sun. Isolated rain. H: 57 L: 44 Wind: NW 4
Sunday: Partly sunny. Warmer H: 60 L: 47 Wind: SW 5
Saving Cow Farts
Here's a sobering stat: One cow can produce up to 300 liters of methane per day. If converted to energy this is enough to run a car for 24 hours. Cows are also thought to be a significant cause of climate change. Really?! The business of capturing and harnessing cow flatulence for energy is a serious subject right now.
Besides the backpack experiment to capture cow farts and generate energy, more mainstream studies are ongoing which look at reducing the emissions to begin with. Researchers are breeding lower-emission cows and feeding them lower flatulence-producing food. Some researchers are putting wireless sensors in cow stomachs to the track effects of diet.
Climate Change and Clouds
An old colleague of mine from Penn State University, Mark Zelinka, is determined to crack the code on clouds and their role in climate change. Here's the dilemma:
Clouds both trap and deflect planet-warming energy. Their molecules contribute to the greenhouse effect by lapping up infrared radiation emitted by Earth and redirecting some of that energy back toward the planet's surface. But clouds' white tops also reflect almost a fifth of the solar radiation that reaches the planet, a shading effect.
Mark is using sophisticated radar and lidar data to get the most comprehensive view of clouds that has ever been available. Hoping his research will answer the question of whether clouds will accelerate or dampen global warming.
Windy weather will begin to dry the trails this weekend but it will be drying not well spent. Rain returns Saturday night and will continue off and on through next week. So much for the trails opening up anytime soon.
Saturday: Increasing clouds. H: 57 Wind: E 10-15
Saturday Night: A few showers. L: 40 Wind: E 20
Sunday: Rainy and windy for MN Ironman. H: 52 L: 39 Wind: SE 20 G 30
Monday: Thunderstorms. H: 61 L: 45 Wind: E 10-15
Tuesday: Rain. H: 51 L: 39 Wind: NE 10
Wednesday: Still raining... H: 53 L: 40 Wind: NW 10
Breezy and rainy conditions will define early next week's weather. This cool wind map is able to show current wind speed and direction with pretty good accuracy. Strong, moist south wind over the Plains will be the precursor to severe thunderstorms over the Mid-South this weekend.
Meanwhile, Minnesota is heading into the rainy season. So it's just fitting that we're seeing two consecutive heavy rain events.
Represent Minnesota cycling by voting for Cottage Grove Bike Park in the Bell Built Grant!
We are looking at our first widespread rain event since last Fall. Showers begins on Wednesday and will continue, intermittently, through Friday. Luckily, the severe weather threat has decreased with the low tracking further southeast.
Tuesday: Sunny. H: 61 Wind: NW 5-10
Tuesday Night: Increasing clouds. L: 43
Wednesday: Showers and thunderstorms. H: 59 L: 44 Wind: SE 10-15
Thursday: Heavy morning rain. H: 60 L: 40 Wind: W 10-20
Friday: Cloudy, getting colder. Light rain possibly mixing with snow. H: 49 L: 33 Wind: 10-15
Saturday: Mostly sunny. H: 50 L: 35 Wind: NE 7
Sunday: Sunny. H: 54 L: 35 Wind: E 5-10
"Another last fatbike ride," remarked avid fatbiker C.J. Smith. Keyword: another. Will last Wednesday be the last snowy ride on the fatbike? Hard to say with the way this spring has been going. I thought the second to last snowstorm would be the grand finale. I was proved wrong with the 20" snowfall just north of the metro this past week. Many grumbled while fatbikers rejoiced!
Easter Sunday looks superb. A southwesterly flow brings back highs close to 70 degrees. Mild conditions with the possibility of thunderstorms (some severe) late in the week.
Saturday: Mostly cloudy, an afternoon shower/clap of thunder? H: 67 Wind: SW 15-20
Saturday Night: Partial clearing. L: 49
Sunday: Partly sunny. Warming up! H: 72 L: 51 Wind: NE 4
Monday: Sunny. H: 69 L: 49 Wind: NW 10-15
Tuesday: Sunny. H: 59 L: 43 Wind: NW 10
Wednesday: Rain arrives late. H: 62 L: 48 Wind: SE 10
Thursday: Thunderstorms. H: 61 L: 47 Wind: SE 5-10
Friday: Showers and storms. H: 59 L: 46 Wind: NE 10-15
Bike Weather Station
Back in 2009, the American Meteorological Society formed the Committee on Mobile Observations which considered the use of automobiles to observe hyper-local temperature differences. Now a bicycle-based weather station is being used for observing local temperature variations. This weather bike "demonstrates the ability of bicycle-based meteorological instrumentation to observe topographic variations in near-surface temperature, and the potential use of these bicycle-based observations for atmospheric science education." Very cool.
Bad Allergy Season
Allergies acting up this season? Once again, you can blame the polar vortex. In fact, some are dubbing it the "pollen vortex".
The simple reason is that flowers are temperature-sensitive. They don't open up and release pollen when it's cold. Trees that normally would have bloomed several weeks ago are just budding now.
Severe weather season, nationwide, has gotten off to a slow start.
Through March 31, the United States had only 70 reported tornadoes even though the first quarter has averaged more than 170 a year over the last 10 years. April has remained quiet, with 36 preliminary tornado reports. Oklahoma hasn’t seen an intense tornado since May 31, the longest such stretch on record.
Many severe weather experts blame the persistent drought over the Plains for the lack of tornadoes. A lackluster start, however, doesn't necessarily mean a quiet finish. Remember, Minnesota is still in tornado alley.
Don't forget to represent Minnesota and vote for Cottage Grove Bike Park!
Snow in April? It can happen. Expect the flakes to fly again on Wednesday with very little, if any, accumulation in the metro. The bulk of the snow falls between Minneapolis and Duluth.
Wednesday: Rain and snow. H: 41 Wind: SE 5-10
Wednesday Night: Snow. Little to no accumulation. L: 25
Thursday: Partly cloudy. H: 40 L: 29 Wind: NW 7
Friday: Sunny. H: 46 L: 31 Wind: NE 7
Saturday: Increasing clouds. Cold rain Sat. night. H: 52 L: 39 Wind: SE 5-10
Sunday: Morning rain, remaining cloudy. H: 56 L: 40 Wind: SE 10
Recent wind and warm weather has sped up the evaporation process. Still, lots of standing water to be had on our metro trails. Expect cold and wet weather to put a temporary halt on the drying through Easter weekend.
Saturday: Rain, mainly in the morning. Totals less than 0.25" H: 63° Wind: N 5
Saturday Night: Mostly cloudy. Colder air moves in. L: 40°
Sunday: Colder. Cloudy, light showers for the Miesville Grinder. H: 44° L: 30° Wind: NE 10
Monday: Sunny, dry. Northern MN may see 0° overnight. H: 37° L: 25° Wind: NW 10
Tuesday: Sunny. H: 41° L: 25° Wind: N 2-4
Wednesday: Cold rain. Rain/snow mix overnight. H: 45° L: 32° Wind: SE 10
Thursday: A wet, cool, raw day. Rain and snow showers testing the 30 Days of Biking spirit. H: 45° L: 33° Wind: NE 10-15
El Nino is Coming
Remember this Chris Farley skit on SNL? A classic. The real El Nino is forecast to return over the next few months with warmer than normal ocean waters in the eastern equatorial Pacific.
What does this mean for Minnesota? Typically when a strong El Nino is present, the number of days with 2" of snow is down. Also the number of days below freezing are a little less and the number of days with temps above average increase.
Our trails are constantly being worked over by the the freeze-thaw cycle. Trails typically start to really dry out come the first week in May when the last freeze occurs.
Minnesota Tornado Warnings
Of course, with the change in the season comes the increased risk of severe weather. We need to remember that southern Minnesota is still technically in tornado alley.
This map shows the average number of minutes per year a particular county is under a tornado warning. So for many Minnesota counties, if you were to take shelter for ever tornado warning issued then you would spend between 30 minutes to 2 hours a year in your shelter. Wow. Definitely puts things into perspective.
Expect to get very little done at work this week. Temps pushing past 60 degrees will have you itching to get out of the office and on the bike. Perfect stretch of weather for 30 Days of Biking. But fair warning, arctic air looks to sneak back next week with highs returning to the 30s. Yuck.
Monday: Isolated showers. Mostly cloudy. H: 54 Wind: NW 5-10
Monday Night: Partly cloudy. L: 34
Tuesday: Broken sun. H: 51 L: 41 Wind: NW 5-10
Wednesday: Mild! Breezy H: 62 L: 41 Wind: SW 10-20
Thursday: Light rain. H: 59 L: 38 Wind: NW 10 G 20
Friday: Mostly sunny. H: 63 L: 45 Wind: SW 10
Saturday: Showers. H: 62 L: 35 Wind: NW 15
Sunday: Getting colder. H: 44 L: 35 Wind: NW 10
Waking up to a fresh 8" of snow in April is enough to rattle even the most hardcore fatbiker. Still, a late season snow like this is no match for that strong April sun.
Most of the snow you see outside your window today will be gone by next week. Especially with 60 degrees in the forecast Wednesday!
Personally, I am hopeful this is winter's last hurrah. I am yearning for dirt on snow-free singletrack. Looking at the top April snowstorms, however, it's not unusual to see snow late into April. Yikes.
Top April Snowstorms
1.) April 14, 1983 13.6"
2.) April 27-28, 1907 13.0"
3.) April 19-21, 1893 10.0"
These totals put our recent snow event to shame. The metro came away with 6-8 inches while areas just north received closer to 10 inches with our latest storm making it one of the top 10 biggest snowstorms in April history.
Gotta remember that not everybody is sour about the latest snowstorm.
We've endured our 10th most severe winter according to the DNR'S Winter Misery Index. "Severe" is a general term. For the bicycle community, it was a season of exponential growth. More Minnesotans were on their winter bikes than ever before. For a person who loves a good bike photo, take a look back at one of the "most prolific season for cold weather cyclists on record".
The weather should behave this week for the 30 Days of Biking. Only hiccup will be Monday-Tuesday with a chance of rain changing to light rain/snow mix. Nothin' we can't handle!
Saturday: Sunny. H: 45 Wind: S 5-10
Saturday Night: Partly cloudy. L: 34
Sunday: Partly cloudy. H: 55 L: 41 Wind: SW 2-4
Monday: Rain. H: 55 L: 36 Wind: N 10
Tuesday: Light rain and snow. H: 51 L: 38 Wind: NW 10
Wednesday: Mostly sunny. H: 63 L: 45 Wind: SW 10-15
Thursday: Partly sunny, breezy. H: 55 L: 35 Wind: NW 15-20
Friday: Mostly sunny. H: 55 L: 35 Wind: NW 4
No April Fool's joke here. Another snowstorm is poised to hit central MN. Prepare for tough travel weather, again, as significant snow develops Thursday-Friday. This storm will be robust with a direct connection to the Gulf of Mexico. Thundersnow is even possible. Good grief!
Wednesday: Mostly sunny. H: 41 L: 30 Wind: NE 2-4
Thursday: Mostly cloudy, heavy rain changing to snow late. H: 46 L: 30 Wind: E 10
Friday: Snow, 6"-9" total. H: 35 L: 26 Wind: NE 15-20
Saturday: Partly cloudy. H: 40 L: 29 Wind: NW 10
Sunday: Sunny, warmer. H: 50 L: 46 Wind: SW 2-4
Summer brings warm afternoons perfect for biking, but the summer heat and humidity can also spark thunderstorms and severe weather. Be prepared for any type of adverse weather headed your way with Aeris Pulse.
NWS Twin Cities Weather Story